Martinez now longest-tenured Nats manager

May 7th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Manager Dave Martinez remembers the first time he filled out the lineup card as a Major League manager. It was 2018, his first season with the Nationals.

“That was a special day for me,” Martinez said.

Four seasons later, Martinez was at the helm for his 411th game and became the longest-tenured manager in Nats team history. He passed Manny Acta, who managed 410 games from 2007-09, on Thursday in Washington’s 3-2 loss to Atlanta at Nationals Park.

“It’s been a blessing,” Martinez said. “We’ve done a lot here. Hopefully we’ll win a few more championships, especially one this year.”

Martinez was unaware he was nearing the feat when greeted him with a hug Thursday morning. He chalked it up to the shortstop being in a “lovable mood,” until Turner explained why.

“I said, ‘Thanks. You know what? Keep playing the way you’re playing so I can be here a whole lot longer,’” Martinez recounted.

Since being hired by Washington from the Cubs’ coaching staff, Martinez has led the Nationals to a 213-198 record. He cemented his place in Nats history by turning around the 2019 team from a 19-31 start to World Series champions with a “go 1-0 today” mantra.

“It’s not so much the X’s and O’s of baseball,” said. “I mean, we all kind of know those. It’s how you manage guys and how you push buttons and how you keep guys motivated and keep guys in direction.”

The Nationals signed Martinez to a multi-year contract extension last September, bringing consistency to a club that had seen its share of managers since 2005.

“I can’t say enough about Davey’s leadership qualities and the poise he shows under pressure,” general manager Mike Rizzo said at the time. “The players, coaches and staff have the utmost respect for him as a manager and a person. There is no one else our team would rather have at the helm.”

This offseason, the impact of Martinez’s long-standing relationships around the league was evident when the Nationals acquired several players he had worked with in Chicago. Veteran said knowing Martinez made his decision to join the Nats’ starting rotation “a lot easier.” He pointed out how Martinez effectively defers and delegates among the coaching staff and players, rather than trying to handle everything himself.

“From the little bit I’ve seen so far [in Washington], he lets the guys play, he lets the coaches coach and obviously, he’s got to sit up here and take the responsibility for it,” Lester said. “But I’ve known him a long time, played against him a long time, respect the hell out of him and I’m happy for him that he’s been here for this long.”

Former Cub , who first played with Martinez as a rookie, noted how he has stayed true to himself over the years as he rose up in the managerial ranks.

“What a really cool accomplishment. Hopefully, he’s here much, much longer,” Schwarber said. “The guy’s been the same guy since I was in Chicago. … He’s got his own style … I think it’s great that he’s himself. He’s the guy who’s going to make sure you’re not going to get too high, you're not getting too down.”

From Cabbage Day relay races to hockey rally helmets, Martinez has kept the Nationals’ mood light while focusing on winning.

“He’s really been one of my favorite managers I’ve had,” Scherzer said. “I’ve been blessed to play for some great managers in my past, but he definitely has a command of the clubhouse and he’s earned that respect.”

Though the Nationals were unable to deliver a “W” for Martinez’s commemorative game, the players shared an outpouring of support for the manager on his milestone afternoon.

“That’s exciting,” said. “The number one thing in this game is, you want to do it as long as you can. I think that’s a testament to the guy that he is, also as a manager. I love playing for Davey -- he’s a great guy. I wish we could have got that win for him on the special day for him, but we’ve got plenty more chances and we’ll make the season memorable.”